Online Banking Users

Trojans Might Be Sneaking Into Your Accounts

By Robert E. Holtfreter, Ph.D., Educator Associate Member

bob-holtfreter-50x50.jpg  Taking Back the ID 

Susie Duke had just deposited her payroll check into her bank account when she discovered she was the latest victim of a type of identity theft she'd never known existed.

The bank teller had just handed her a receipt that validated her latest deposit and updated her account balance. She noticed the new account balance appeared to be incorrect; it was the same as the amount of the deposited check - $1,000.

Susie had done some online banking three days before and remembered that she had more than $4,000 in her account. Puzzled, she immediately asked the bank teller to check her account. They reviewed the most recent transactions and discovered that the electronic transfer that wiped out her balance was made two days before. Susie told the clerk she hadn't made the transfer.

Bank security personnel told Susie a cyber thief might have infiltrated her computer with a banking Trojan. If so, the thief used the Trojan to transfer money out of her account and into his hands after she'd been online to check her bank account. The bank's authentication system only required usernames and passwords for their customers to bank online. The Trojan had likely picked up Susie's banking information when she signed in online on her computer, gained access to her account, and transferred the balance to the hacker's bank.

The case is fictitious but the problem is real. Most banks offer fraud protection to their patrons, and so most will cover losses incurred from banking Trojans. If you or one of your clients becomes a victim of this crime, contact your bank immediately to check your coverage and minimize the damage by changing account numbers and/or passwords.

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